How Sleep Impacts Your Career & How to Get Better Quality Zzzs Every Night

Emma Sleep mattress - productivity and sleep - bed in a box

This post was written in collaboration with Emma Sleep. While we are financially compensated by them, we nonetheless strive to maintain our editorial integrity and review products with the same objective lens. We are committed to providing the best recommendations and advice in order for you to make personal financial decisions with confidence. You can view our Editorial Guidelines here.


What has sleep got to do with excelling in your career? I mean, there’s nothing a cup or 2 of caffeine can’t remedy, right?

Besides, how to get enough sleep when you work overtime daily, need to take charge of your kids’ home-based learning, not to mention do chores and maybe squeeze in a workout and your favourite K-drama???

According to an AIA sleep study, 55% of those in Singapore surveyed admitted to having just 6 hours or less of sleep each night. This means that more than half of us are sleep deprived. Oops, me too.

The study goes on to advise that to get ahead in your career, sacrificing sleep to put in more working hours is not the answer. Instead, it suggests that prioritising sleep and getting the recommended 7 to 8 hours could translate to better cognitive performance and reduce daytime sleepiness for better productivity and accuracy when doing your job.

However, the quantity of sleep you get may not necessarily be good quality sleep.

There are days when you wake up after an 8-hour shuteye and you somehow know you didn’t get a good night’s sleep. Maybe your body is achy, you feel more sluggish/groggy than usual or you found yourself lying in a pool of perspiration — sometimes, you can’t even pinpoint the cause.

Ugh, it’s tough to be at the top of your game or lead a key project when you’re feeling like you woke up on the wrong side of the bed. You might even be suffering from a tension headache due to insufficient sleep, yet you still need to slog out that 20-page report that was due yesterday.

 

Why do I need better quality sleep?

When you sleep better, you not only wake up feeling rested, restored and energised.

Some tell-tale signs of poor quality sleep (remember, it’s not just about the duration but how well you sleep) include:

  • Taking more than 30 minutes to fall asleep after you get into bed
  • Regularly waking up more than once a night
  • Lying awake for longer than 20 minutes when you wake up in the middle of the night
  • You need more cups of coffee to stay alert and focused
  • You seem hungrier than usual, crave junk food and start putting on weight
  • You’re having frequent breakouts, your eyes look puffy or have more dark eye rings
  • You feel crankier than usual
Emma Sleep mattress - productivity and sleep - bed in a box
Image: Emma Sleep

Getting enough sleep can have multiple benefits, both physical and mental. Chances are, you work in a job that requires your undivided attention and mental prowess. Good news: Getting enough quality sleep can boost your learning effect, emotional stability and reaction time.

 

1. Learning effect

According to Harvard, getting enough quality sleep helps to optimise one’s focus and attention for efficient learning. Sleep also has a role in the consolidation of memory, an essential part of learning something new.

That new work process or system you need to familiarise yourself with, those new product details you need to memorise before meeting clients, taking on a new portfolio with a steep learning curve, undergoing training as a new hire… all these aspects of your job require your full attention for efficient learning and memory.

 

2. Emotional stability

An article in the AIMS Neuroscience journal also highlighted the link between quality sleep and one’s emotions or even mental health. By getting enough quality sleep, one is able to deal with negative emotions better and celebrate the positive emotions more. Studies also showed that those who experienced REM sleep had a better mood after dreaming.

If you’re not in a good mood, you might just end up being that colleague who sighs loudly every 15 minutes; or who snaps at his/her teammates for no apparent reason… Or are you that grouchy staff whom no one dares to approach for help?

It’s also known that a workplace with a positive work culture tends to be more productive. In addition, being that well-liked colleague could net you a promotion/raise, or solidify your bonds with team members.

 

3. Reaction time

Surviving on less than ideal sleep can impair your reaction times significantly, observed a study in the Asian J Sports Med journal. With enough quality rest, individuals’ reaction times improved by about 13%.

The impact of this for someone working in an office-based job might not be as great as someone who could be monitoring equipment, data or even the stock market. For example, it’s required by law that aircraft crew get adequate rest prior to flying.

 

Emma Sleep mattress - productivity and sleep - bed in a box

So how do I achieve better quality sleep?

In life, there are some things out of our sphere of influence, so we should focus on the areas that we can control.

For example, sleeping enough can be challenging when one has a newborn and/or young kids, or needs to look after a family member. Other times, sleeping hours can be odd due to the nature of one’s work, such as shift jobs or the demands of say, an emergency room.

Sometimes, factors such as stress or an overactive brain that cannot seem to “shut down” at night can also contribute to insomnia and poor sleep.

Nevertheless, what we control is our physical sleeping environment. By optimising this, we could ensure that every precious second of sleep is of good quality.

Here are some ways to enhance an optimal sleep environment:

 

1. Get enough support

Picking a mattress with adequate support for your spine can help you get a good night’s sleep. Just think about it: If you spend 7-8 hours a night sleeping, that’s almost one-third of your entire life spent on the bed.

An article on WebMD stresses the importance of good posture for better quality sleep, suggesting various positions for different sleep-related conditions (i.e. sleep apnea, back/neck pain) and recommends the use of a supportive mattress.

Enter Emma Sleep, a German science-backed sleep company with more than 30 experts in its R&D team and an in-house state-of-the-art test lab. Its mattresses are designed by engineers who work with real customers, and each mattress is manufactured in Europe with quality materials such as supportive point-elastic foam and pressure-relieving, 7-zone foam.

Emma Sleep mattress - productivity and sleep - bed in a box
Image: Emma Sleep

7-zone foam
The Emma One mattress has 7 ergonomic zones for the head, shoulder, lordosis (inward curvature of the spine), pelvis, thigh, lower leg and foot zone below the pelvis.

Multi-layered foam for support
The Emma Original is made with multi-layered foam. The top layer (point-elastic Airgocell foam) adapts to your body and is breathable; the middle layer (visco-elastic foam) provides pressure relief/distribution; and the lower layer (HRX foam) stabilises the body and supports you in your favourite sleeping position.

Possible outcome
You’re likely to wake up more well-rested and with less aches and pains. With more energy (physical and mental) and less discomfort to distract you, you’ll be clearer-headed when working — you might even finish tasks more quickly and do less overtime.

 

2. Keep your cool

Singapore is well-known for its hot and humid weather, be it in the day or night. Heat discomfort can affect your sleep — the last thing you want is the material of your mattress trapping heat instead of wicking it away (even with the fan and your aircon switched on).

It’s smart to invest in a mattress made of breathable and moisture-wicking materials that can help keep one cool all night long, such as Emma Sleep’s mattresses.

As a bonus, Emma Sleep’s mattresses are certified to be free from harmful materials and feature eco-friendly foam. They comply with the OEKO-TEX Standard 100 – Class 1, which certifies that the product is safe for babies and toddlers.

Possible outcome
You’ll wake up fresher in the morning instead of in a pool of perspiration. If a morning shower isn’t usually part of your routine, cutting it out could earn you extra time for shuteye before you’ll need to log in to your office email. Literally keeping your cool could also help you avoid unwanted conflict at work, as uncomfortable temperatures may fuel aggression.

 

3. Get an undisturbed night’s rest

Are you co-sleeping with a partner, a sibling or your kid(s)? You might be (un)knowingly disturbed during your sleep should your bedfellow(s) toss and turn, occasionally wake up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom or have a different working schedule.

According to a study in the journal Sleep, interrupted sleep impacts a person’s mood much more than a lack of sleep (having later bedtimes). This is because the individual is unable to progress through the various sleep stages to achieve the amount of slow-wave sleep (deep sleep) that’s key to feeling restored.

Emma Sleep’s mattresses are engineered with this in mind; its multi-zonal foam is bouncy yet provides excellent motion isolation — perfect for light sleepers who share a bed with a partner who moves a lot.

Possible outcome
When you have an undisturbed night’s rest, you’ll be in a better mood and feel recharged to take on each day — especially when tackling challenging or demanding projects at work.

Emma Sleep mattress - productivity and sleep - bed in a box

4. Test to know what’s right

How would you know if the mattress is truly engineered for your body and sleeping style unless you test it — and those awkward 10+ minutes in the showroom lying down on the bed in your outside clothes might not be the most accurate answer.

Emma Sleep offers a 100-night trial, so that buyers can adjust to their new sleeping surface and assess if the mattress is right for them…all from the comfort of their own home. If for some reason they don’t like it, they can return it for a full refund (as always, reasonable terms and conditions apply).

Possible outcome
With a good mattress, you might notice that you have higher energy levels at work, make better connections with your colleagues, need fewer cups of coffee to get through your day, and your newfound upbeat attitude positively influences your workmates.

 

5. Go to bed with fewer worries

Stress definitely affects sleep quality, but what if you could eliminate some of it? It’s no surprise that one of the top stressors is money: We worry if we’re able to pay our bills, buy essentials, occasionally splurge on nice things, or afford to make quality purchases.

For example, when I first got my home, I had to budget for my renovation and home furnishings. How much did I want to pay for a mattress that would offer good support, durability and comfort, yet not burn a hole in my pocket?

Brand-name mattresses easily cost 4-figure sums (that’s at least $100 a year, based on a mattress’ lifespan of 10 years), and that $50 “tilam” probably offers less support than my yoga mat.

Emma Sleep mattresses are priced from $199 (Emma One single) to $899 (Emma Original king). As the brand has no brick-and-mortar store (everything is online), it saves on rental fees. In addition, each mattress is carefully roll-packed by a special machine for easier and more compact delivery, further saving on business costs that can be passed on to its customers.

Emma Sleep mattresses have also clinched over 30 awards globally, in which 10 of those are focused on stringent mattress testing processes.

Possible outcome
When you have lesser stressors, you’re able to sleep better (all those times you’ve woken in the middle of the night due to a nightmare that seemed all too real). Who knows, your improved sleep quality and hence work productivity might be the key to your next promotion… solving some of your money worries.

 

Emma Sleep is offering an additional 10% off its mattresses for MoneySmart readers (promo code: MONEYSMART10), alongside the brand promises of 100 nights trial, free return, 10-year warranty and free delivery.

Find out more about Emma Sleep and try out a German-engineered mattress here.

Emma Sleep mattress - productivity and sleep - bed in a box